“The Little Mermaid” First Reactions: Halle Bailey IS Ariel in Entirely Enchanting Performance

The first reactions are in for director Rob Marshall’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, and everyone is more or less in agreement that star Halle Bailey is absolutely phenomenal as the young mermaid Ariel. While Bailey is, understandably, getting the ocean’s share of love, her supporting cast is also coming in for plaudits, including Javier Bardem as Ariel’s father, King Triton, Melissa McCarthy as the sea witch Ursula, and Daveed Diggs and Awkwafina as Ariel’s beloved friends Sebastian (a crab) and Scuttle (a seagull), respectively.

A quick refresher on the story of The Little Mermaid; Bailey’s Ariel is the youngest daughter of King Triton (Bardem) and she’s also the most defiant. She has long harbored a desire to learn more about the world beyond the sea, and her natural curiosity eventually leads her to the surface, where she falls in love with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) after saving him from a shipwreck. While Ariel’s actions are obviously heroic, they’re also deeply problematic for her underwater kingdom, where mermaids are forbidden from interacting with humans, let alone falling in love with them. So, Ariel makes a choice that will change all their fates when she strikes a deal with the evil sea witch Ursula (McCarthy), allowing Ariel to experience life on land but plunging her father’s kingdom into jeopardy in the bargain. 

Marshall’s live-action take on this legendary short story by Hans Christian Andersen includes the most diverse cast to ever perform in an iteration of the story. The film was written by two-time Oscar nominee David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland) and boasts a sensational cast. Joining Bailey, McCarthy, Bardem, Diggs, Awkwafina, and Hauer-King are Jude Akuwudike as Grimsby, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Lorena Andrea as Perla, and Kasja Mohammar as Karina. These latter two characters are new additions created for this film.   

Check out the reactions below. The Little Mermaid swims into theaters on May 26:

For more stories on Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures, Marvel Studios and what’s streaming or coming to

Disney+, check these out:

New Batch of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” Images & Videos Tease Rocket’s Heartbreaking Past

On This “Star Wars Day,” The Galaxy is Expanding

Marvel’s “Blade” Recruits “True Detective” Creator Nic Pizzolatto to Sharpen Story

Featured image: (L-R): Scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina), Flounder (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), and Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


The Credits

The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.